Forests, ag must star in Warsaw
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) newest executive summary is now available. This fifth summary warns that the world has already emitted half of the total carbon emissions that will result in a 2-degree Celsius increase. But what does this mean for forests? In an opinion piece by CIFOR Director Louis Verchot, he argues that the emissions of forests and agriculture (which make up around 30% of global emissions) need to be addressed. In the upcoming COP19 in Warsaw, Verchot hopes that countries will agree on verification and finance with Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects and begin discussions to include agriculture and land use change emissions at the international stage.
Mangroves offer carbon trove
Launched in October, the Mikoko Pamoja project will sell mangrove offsets in Kenya. The project will start by covering 117 hectares and including 3,000 people, and aims to raise around $12,000 a year. Part of the funds will be distributed for community education and health, while the remaining money will plant new seedlings and protect the mangroves. The people behind the idea, Professor Huxham of Edinburgh Napier University and Dr. James Kairo from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, hope to expand it over time. The Mikoko Pamoja project currently has backing from Earthwatch Institute, the World Wildlife Fund, Aviva and the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation programme. The project’s offsets are currently being verified by Plan Vivo.
No need to mow
South Carolina’s first registered carbon-offset project, Middleton Woodlands Avoided Conversion, has just been approved by the Climate Action Reserve (CAR). The project will conserve 3,731 acres next to the historic Middleton Place, the oldest landscaped gardens in America and recognized national historic landmark. Managing director of Middleton Place Colby Hollifield explains that the owners began looking for financial options to preserve the land after witnessing increased land development nearby over the past two decades. They partnered with Green Assets for help with managing the project, as “quite frankly, there’s no way this would have happened without guidance from the Green Assets team. The CAR process demands experts who can navigate the program’s rigorous quantification and inventory methodologies to create high-quality forest carbon offsets.”
‘Peat’ing Indonesia’s fires
Indonesia may have found a way to beat peat fires with its Sustainable Peatland Management project. In a fire last October, peatland across central Kalimantan burned except for a five-hectare plot. The plot is one of five pilot sites that were chosen for the project and its success offers a promising future for peat. Unlike other peatlands, this pilot site raises the level of the water table to reduce the amount of soil burning, uses peat ameliorants to reduce acidity and encourage plant growth and encourages inter-cropping to necessitate weeding and make the land less flammable. A replication project, starting last year, uses 100 hectares of land run by 42 farmers and is funded through Indonesia’s REDD+ scheme.
Money troubles in Uganda
Uganda just signed a $3.6 million agreement with the World Bank to fund its REDD Readiness Preparation Proposal. Despite this cash infusion, and an additional $865,000 offered by the Australian government, $6 million more is needed to reach the proposed budget. Environmental analysts further expressed concern about the use of this money. David Mwayafu, from the NGO Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development, worries that “there is no clear mechanism for revenue distribution and sharing in Uganda.” Lauren Goers Williams, an associate at the World Resources Institute, stresses the need for communication and training to work with local communities’ individual forests needs.
Finishing first for the gold
Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey REDD+ Project became the first in the world to earn the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard’s “Triple Gold” designation. Oddar Meanchey benefits 13 community forest groups and more than 10,000 households by implementing a mixture of community water delivery, sustainable farming, and land tenure facilitation projects over a 50,000 hectare space. This effort has avoided more than 700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2008-2011. It is now CCB and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) verified.
Growing capacity in Ghana
Ghana just secured $9.75 million from the Climate Investment Fund’s (CIF) Forest Investment Programme (FIP), through support from the African Development Bank (AfDB). The money will finance Ghana’s Engaging Local Communities in REDD+ and Enhancement of Carbon Stocks project, which will support 12,000 people through capacity building, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives. An estimated 175,000 people will benefit indirectly. “Approval of this project means that Ghana can exponentially ramp up sustainability of its forest sector and ensure that forest-related communities are both recipients and creators of effective and climate-smart economic solutions,” said Albert Mwangi, AfDB’s task manager for Ghana’s project. The project will be piloted in two regions to begin with, in Western and Brong Ahafo.
A nutty idea
Three car parks in Leeds and Manchester are raising awareness about car emissions in an unusual way: they are currently accepting horse chestnuts, also known as conkers, in lieu of parking fare. One conker is worth 20 pence and so far more than 1,500 conkers – £300 – has been redeemed. The campaign hopes to raise awareness about offsetting vehicle emissions, as all of the conkers will be donated to the Hetchell Wood Nature Reserve where they will be planted. Jonathan Leadley, from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has commented on the scheme: “This fantastic, but slightly bonkers idea will raise the profile of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s wonderful woodlands and hopefully raise a bit of cash to help us look after them.”
National Strategy and Development
Indiana Jones to the rescue
Just three days after the Indonesian Government announced the long-awaited establishment of a REDD+ Management Agency (RMA), actor Harrison Ford had a heated exchange with Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan over illegal logging and encroachments in the Tesso Nilo national park. Ford is vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of Conservation International, and this latest concern over transparency highlights a major need that the new agency should address, the actor said. The RMA has its work cut out for it: a 16-page document lays out 12 functions, including the development of a REDD national strategy and coordinating REDD projects across multiple ministries, as the agency’s mandate. While the agency’s source of funding will be transparent and accountable, no regulation currently exists stipulating public accountability of the agency’s work.
Communities find their voice
Kenya has been facing governance issues with its reforestation initiatives, and locals are not happy about it. Joseph Lesingo, a member of the Ogiek tribe’s council of elders, says that “communities are not consulted on the nature and benefits of carbon trade projects apart from being informed that planting trees will generate money.” He continues, describing how projects plant exotic trees instead of indigenous species and how communities must rely on investors since they have limited knowledge and access to climate change funding. Benson Ochieng of the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance agrees that local communities have been duped by a lack of transparency and public disclosure. Corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation of project funds are difficult to enforce, he adds, since Kenya does not possess a legal framework for climate-related offenses as stipulated by REDD.
Minding the gaps
The Global Comparative Study on REDD+, produced by CIFOR, studied land tenure security across five countries (Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Tanzania and Vietnam). The report found that tenure issues must be addressed before REDD+ projects begin; however, the amount of time and costs it takes to implement tenure security is often not included in REDD+ proposals and lengthens the average three to five-year project cycle. Furthermore, while successful projects employ diverse approaches, project proponents often have trouble coordinating with national strategies and actions. This suggests that these efforts are localized and unlikely to have an impact on other projects in country. The study concludes with the assessment that “little of value can be achieved in the context of project cycles absent of collaboration with government actors”.
Finance and Economics
Earning the medal without the money
While Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey project just received Triple Gold CCB verification, buyers haven’t followed the accolades. The NGO Pact has worked with the government to create this REDD+ project since 2007 but stopped funding the scheme in July. Carbon credit sales were expected to fill the financing gap, but no deals have been made as the government of Cambodia still has not signed off on the project, as it was supposed to in May. Pact expects that the forestry administration will buy the credits to continue funding the project. Back in the U.S., Terra Global Capital has been talking to prospective buyers as well. They hope to complete sales before the end of the year. In the meantime, communities in the project assert that the lack of funds means that they can’t monitor illegal logging and they’ve seen land encroachments increase.
Money does grow on trees
In Ecotrust Forest Management, the investment fund selectively harvest trees sustainably, profits from carbon credits, and sells forest products such as brush undergrowth for floral arrangements. The approach seems to be working: from its start in 2004, the Ecotrust Forest Fund 1 averaged 10.6% per year average gross returns from the $30 million under investment. The fund focuses on finding young forests or forests that need rehabilitation, so they are competitively priced compared to mature forests. While traditional forest investors cut trees at the end of their fast growth stage – about every 35-40 years – and often replant with Douglas-fir trees, Ecotrust relies on mixed trees and selectively logs. They prefer smaller scale logging, selling conservation easements, carbon credits and other activities that add up to larger income streams.
Sticks are fine but words hurt REDD
The Kuna Yala indigenous people in Panama have rejected REDD after a year and a half of consultation with Wildlife Works. The 51 communities voted to reject the proposal and took it a step further by announcing a withdrawal “from all discussions at the national and international level on the REDD issue.” Two cousins from the Kuna Yala have created an indigenous rap group, Kunarevolution, to rap about their connection with the earth and the Kuna’s land and water rights. They believe that REDD would take away from future generations and that “it would have been the end of us as a people.”
Science and Technology Review
Forests in flux
In an effort to understand more about carbon sequestration and saturation, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network has installed about 20 “flux towers” in Australia. The towers send out infrared beams 20 times a second, which measure the transfer of carbon between the landscape and the environment. While many towers measure present-day levels of CO2, one site is “doused” with higher levels of CO2 that resemble the future climate. Current trees in Australia have grown faster and larger due to increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere acting as a fertilizer. Scientists hope that the data will provide insights into forest carbon sequestration and the possibility of carbon saturation from too much CO2. More than 500 flux towers are now installed worldwide.
Stress can kill
In a new study released in Global Change Biology, scientists discovered that Black Spruce trees of North America subject to environmental stresses die after about five years. They also revealed that tree growth slows down with forest age, as expected, but that middle-aged trees have faster carbon uptake than previously expected. These results have implications for climate models, which are mainly based on short-term observations for vegetation. It also may change perceptions of another long-term forest study, the BOREAS project that was carried out by NASA in the 1990’s. The new results show that the 1990’s data was “not the worst [decade] ever for growth, but pretty bad. That means instead of typical growth, we saw slow growth, and that raises questions about whether, on average, forests are socking away more carbon than we think,” explains lead author Ben Bond-Lamberty.
Publications and Tools
Reaping the rewards
Produced by the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative, ‘A global strategy for sustainable land management’ compares sustainable land management with unsustainable, short-term practices. It argues that sustainable land management practices have greater benefits than costs, and that increased adoption could generate $1.4 trillion in increased crop production.
Adapting to REDD+
This CIFOR case study examines an Indonesian village’s potential impacts and benefits from climate adaptation interventions. Villagers created two adaptation projects, which the study then evaluated using cost-benefit analysis and projections for returns on investment. It concluded that in addition to direct impacts, the proposed projects could have indirect positive impacts on REDD+. They recommend joint implementation of REDD+ and adaptation projects, to maximize social impact.
Ghana’s growth potential
The “Analysis of Linkages and Opportunities for Synergies Between FLEGT, REDD and National Forest Programme in Ghana” report, coordinated by Tropenbos International and the FAO, examined forest governance in the country and found it to be lacking. The report concluded that coordination between REDD+, FLEGT and the public policy sector has been ineffective. Greater attention is needed to create synergies between national forest policies and institutions.
Chief of Party, Cambodia Supporting Forests and Biodiversity (SFB) Project – Winrock International
Based in Phnom Penh, the Chief of Party will oversee the USAID-funded Cambodia SFB Project. The Chief will serve as the principal liaison to USAID/Cambodia and provide overall technical leadership and administrative oversight in order to achieve the results of the program. Candidates should have a Master’s degree required in forestry or environmental management and a minimum of 10 years’ professional experience in fields required for the successful implementation of this program. Read more about the position here.
Assistant Programmes Officer – World Land Trust
Based in Suffolk, UK, the Assistant Programmes Officer will primarily be responsible for the administration of the Carbon Balanced and Carbon Balanced Paper programmes within the World Land Conservation Programmes Team. The successful candidate will be the primary point of contact for all carbon-related queries, with a particular emphasis on contacts with corporate carbon offset supporters. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree and an understanding of key concepts in climate science, appreciation of the impact of climate change on biodiversity and the role of conservation in short-term climate change mitigation. Read more about the position here.
Forests and Climate Measures/Communications GLOBE Intern – The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Based in Washington, D.C., the intern will support the Nature Conservancy’s Forests and Climate team through assessment of performance against program goals, as well as through capture and dissemination of key lessons learned from TNC’s REDD+ work. Candidates should have at least three years of undergraduate study and one year of relevant experience. Experience manipulating, analyzing and/or interpreting data and producing reports is a plus. Read more about the position here.
Sales and Marketing Assistant – co2balance
Based in Taunton, UK, the Sales and Marketing Assistant will develop sales and marketing material, as well as develop new business through sales campaigns and promote the company through marketing campaigns. Candidates should have a minimum of one year of experience in sales, marketing and administration and possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. Read more about the position here.
Regional Manager (Africa) – The Gold Standard
Based in Europe or Africa, the Regional Manager will play a key role in marketing and capacity building activities within Africa and contribute to the review and assessment of Gold Standard projects and methodologies. Candidates should have a Master’s degree in engineering, science or related discipline and at least five years of work experience within the carbon markets and/or other environmental markets. Read more about the position here.
Carbon Program Associate – Impact Carbon
Based in California, the Program Associate will be responsible for managing the execution of all aspects of project development from diligence to implementation on multiple projects in multiple countries with heavy focus on the analysis and packaging of data for carbon asset verification. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree at minimum and 1-2 years’ professional experience in consulting, or related business, environmental science, or research. Read more about the position here.
Program Assistant, Verification – The Climate Registry
Based in California, the Program Assistant will support the Registry’s verification and accreditation programs, focusing on day-to-day operation of the voluntary and mandatory verification programs to help ensure that the Registry collects high quality GHG data. Candidates should have a BS degree (environmental science or related technical degree preferred) and one to two years of professional experience related to GHG/climate change, corporate environmental management, and/or air quality issues. Read more about the position here.